IT DID NOT matter in the end that the 51st-minute try by Leon Lloyd was the Tigers' only real sniff of the Pau line. Thrilling though the 19-year-old's effort was, the true battle was waged and ultimately won by Leicester's superb forwards.
At the heart of it all, inevitably, was Dean Richards, Coeur de Lion among the Tigers. His return after injury galvanised the Leicester pack and had a thoroughly intimidating effect on their Pau counterparts.
Richards' reputation, honed at his beloved Welford Road in the 14 years since his return from a character-building stint in French rugby as a young man, goes before him. It is not simply a matter of what he does for Leicester but what he does in the minds of the opposition.
There were other fine performers in the Tigers' colours. The front row, aka the ABC Club, Rowntree, Cockerill and Garforth, was tested to the limit. Triep-Capdeville, the Pau loose forward, and Garforth both received yellow cards from referee Ken McCartney for use of the boot, and allegations surfaced afterwards of French eye-gouging. But the Leicester men refused to be deflected from their task.
Bob Dwyer, Leicester's Director of Rugby, had a second-half run-in with Pau's team doctor, Philippe Lageyre, when Lloyd, suffering with a shoulder injury, was for a time refused permission to leave the field.
Leicester turned an unpromising first half, during which Pau hooker Joel Rey plunged over for a nicely-worked try after 29 minutes, into a magnificently ground-out victory.
Those that seek a more expansive style from Leicester, Dwyer included, would have been frustrated by their reliance on the rolling maul to supplement the glut of possession earned at the lineout by Johnson, Poole and Wells.
But this was an English team on hostile foreign soil doing what came naturally, and Dwyer the pragmatist, unable to recall any win in South West France during his previous coaching spell with Racing Club Paris, was thankful for that.
The Leicester try was an extraordinary effort, aided by some ineffective Pau tackles. A drop-out by Healey led, via a maul, to an unlikely link out wide, Poole providing the pair of hands which sent Lloyd haring away on the left wing. The winger, preferred by Dwyer to Rory Underwood, handed off Lhande, brushed past Brusque and held off Passicos to make the corner. Rob Liley's touchline conversion was a fine addition to his four penalty goals, two in each half.
Pau's final effort in injury time floundered on a forward pass between the otherwise outstanding centres, Dantiacq and Paille. The irony that the move was set up by a Leicester-style maul would be of no consequence whatsoever to Dwyer.
Pau: N Brusque; B Lhande, D Dantiacq, C Paille, S Claverie; D Aucagne, C Passicos; P Triep-Capdeville, J Rey, S Bria, T Cleda, A Lagouarde, S Keith, F Rolles, P Ebel (capt).
Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter (G Austin, 14), N Malone, L Lloyd (R Underwood, 64); R Liley, A Healey; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt), B Drake-Lee.
Referee: K McCartney (Scotland).Reuse content